I HAD a good lesson on goat cheese and wine at Impressions, Maxims Hotel, in Newport City last night. Happy Living, importer and distributor of top wine brands (including my favorite Beringer), put together a wine-and-cheese tasting affair and presented a buffet of the world’s best goat cheeses to go with five select Beringer wines, which included rosés, whites and reds.
First lesson learned: Goat cheese comes in different forms, shapes, colors and textures, each of them has its own distinct taste, and therefore not all goat cheeses are created equal. There are fresh cheeses like kesong puti, there are soft and melt-in-the-mouth cheeses similar to Camembert and Brie, and then there are hard cheeses such as Cheddar. They’re also not all white and yellow. For one, the 12 Month Aged “Buenalba” has a dark red tinge to it because it’s made with Merlot wine.
On Impressions’ cocktail buffet were:
• Fresh Goat Cheese – a very mild cheese, kesong puti style, from goat’s milk instead of traditional carabao’s milk (perfect for salads or slow baked with herbs and pepper)
• Feta Cheese Tricolor – traditional goat’s milk feta with a modern and tasty twist – three colors – White, Green (rosemary) and Red (chili flakes)
• Turkish Feta – a soft feta marinated in herbs and olive oil (very tasty when used as a dollop on salmon)
• Goat’s Ricotta – the low-fat alternative to cream cheese, and has a slightly sour flavor typical of goat cheese (used in Italian dishes that call for ricotta, such as lasagna and ravioli)
• Bouchon de Sancerre – white and smooth in texture, with a delicate and distinctive taste with subtle hints of fruit
• Goat Cheese Valencay AOC – with a paste that is moist and firm, and has a soft and delicate taste with nutty flavor
• Fresh Chevre French Style – a classic French-style fresh goat cheese with a local twist for perfect Europhil match, has a texture similar to cream cheese although slightly drier and lighter (mashes like whipped cream cheese)
• St. Maure De Tauraine – classic goat cheese originating from the Loire region of France and has been made there in much the same way for over 1,000 years
• Murcia Al Vino – firm but extremely buttery goat cheese (excellent as a snacking cheese, especially when served with a nice full-bodied red wine)
• Garcia de Paredes Ibores DOC – made from fresh goat’s milk from either Retinta or Verata goats grazing on mountains
• 12 Month Aged “Buenalba” – 100% goat’s milk with Merlot
To go with this variety of goat cheeses were breads, Melba toasts, cold cuts, fresh grapes, dried fruits such as pineapple and apricot, and nuts like pecans and walnuts – all in the buffet spread prepared by Impressions’ renowned French chef Cyrille Soenen, who happily put together the event with Happy Living’s very own Katherine Yao Santos.
Speaking of Happy Living, the company made the exquisite Beringer wines flow last night. Guests took their pick from its featured wines, such as Beringer White Merlot and Beringer White Zinfandel (for the rosés), Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay (for the whites), and Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and Beringer Founders’ Estate Syrah (for the reds).
I had my cheeses with my favorite Beringer White Zinfandel. Ms. Kathy knows this is my favorite wine in the world. So did Raff. We both must have had three wine servings each. Maybe four? We had fun, enjoying the wines and the cheeses in the company of such distinguished and fun people as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Ramona Singian, Aida Garcia of Dane International (importer and distributor of imported nuts and dried fruits, among others), Vicky Choi of PTC Commercial (importer and distributor of imported meats and seafood), and good friend and Food Magazine editor Nana Ozaeta.
By the time we all decided to call it a day (or night!), it was past 10:00 p.m. Newport City was still “alive and pulsating” at that hour, as if the night was just beginning for a lot of other people. Good wine, goat cheese and great company – perfect way to spend an evening after work.